On June 29, 2023, the Court of Justice ruled on questions referred by the Lisbon Court of Appeals relating to alleged resale price maintenance (“RPM”) by Super Bock, a Portuguese beverage manufacturer. The Court of Justice held, inter alia, that a vertical agreement fixing minimum prices is not necessarily a restriction of competition by object despite its characterization as a “hardcore restriction” under the Vertical Block Exemption Regulation (“VBER”) and, in certain circumstances, the existence of an agreement may be inferred from “explicit or tacit acquiescence” by the distributors to an invitation to comply with minimum resale prices.
On July 4, 2023, the Court of Justice delivered its judgment in Meta Platforms Inc. v. Bundeskartellamt, following a request for a preliminary ruling from the Düsseldorf Higher Regional Court (“Düsseldorf Court”) on the validity of the German Federal Cartel Office (“FCO”) 2019 decision finding that Meta Platforms (“Meta”) abused its dominant position by collecting and processing data without users giving their consent freely. The Court of Justice confirmed that competition authorities can find breach of data protection rules under the General Data Protection Regulation (“GDPR”) where that finding is necessary to establish the existence of an abuse of dominance under Article 102 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (“TFEU”). The Court of Justice however emphasized that competition authorities are required to consult and cooperate with national supervisory authorities in charge of GDPR enforcement (“GDPR authorities”).
On March 27, 2023, the European Commission (the “Commission”) announced it would revise its 2008 Guidance on enforcement priorities regarding Article 102 TFEU (the “2008 Guidance”). The Commission has amended its 2008 Guidance in a Communication and Annex. It has also launched a consultation seeking feedback on the adoption of new Guidelines on exclusionary abuses of dominance that the Commission intends to adopt in 2025 after publishing a draft in 2024. While the amendments in the 2008 Guidance bring it closer to the case law, they show the Commission seeking more discretion and leeway in its investigations.